LGBT Love Stories throughout History

The true, the intense and the turbulent LGBT relationships of the ages for LGBT History Month.

Believe it or not, but homosexuality has always been apart of society, with marriage itself being defined and redefined, just as civilization evolves and develops. LGBT people can be found throughout history, and the stereotypes about them have been around for just as long.

There is even evidence to suggest that same-sex marriages were celebrated throughout history in ancient Greece and Rome, as well as areas of China and other parts of Europe!

So with October being LGBT history month, we thought it would be an ideal time to debunk the widely held myth that “same-sex marriages and relationships are a recent invention” and at the same time celebrate LGBT love throughout history…

Khnumhotep & Niankhkhnum

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Image: TourEgypt

Found buried together in an intimate, loving embrace, Khnumhotep & Niankhkhnum were Egyptian servants (manicurists to the royal court) living around 2400 BC. This form of burial was discovered in 1964, and was initially a puzzle to scholars and historians, due to the fact that this type of funeral was usually only reserved for married couples.

Early examination referred to the couple as brothers or relatives, however with reanalysis in the 1990’s, egyptologists concluded them to be a romantic couple. In some hieroglyphs, Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep’s names are strung together in a way that is translated to mean “joined in life and in death.”

 

Hadrian & Antinous

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Image: BrtishMuseum

Being the first leader of Rome to openly announce his sexuality, Emperor Hadrian took the throne of Rome in 117AD with a 13 year old wife (ceremonially married for political purposes). However, his true love was with younger Antinous, who accompanied the emperor as his closest confidant from 128AD.

Sexual relationships between older and younger men were common in ancient Rome, however, it was expected that the older man would cease the relationship once his younger lover reached manhood. However, the emperor maintained the relationship well past this period and consequently, Antinous downed under mysterious circumstances.

Harian was so inconsolable, that he remained in official mourning for over a week and filled his home with statues of Antinous, as well as naming stars and flowers after him.

Vita Sackville-West & Violet Trefusis

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Image: BrainPickings

English author Vita fell in love with writer Violet during a period when LGBT pride was a laughable concept, but their relationship remained and became one of the most intense and turbulent affairs in literary history.

Both women had been friends since childhood, and began forming intense romantic bonds during adolescence, with it eventually turning into a relationship in their twenties. Despite both women being married to men, since 1918 the two ran off together several times to France, where Vita would dress as a man to avoid public attention.

Unfortunately pressure from their families, society gossip and Vita’s affairs put a strain on their relationship, however it was learning that Violet was still having sexual relations with her husband that ended their love.

Gertrude Stein & Alice Toklas

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Image: HereElseWhere

Gertrude met her life partner, Alice, on Toklas’ first day in Paris in 1907. Stein was an American writer, mentor and art collector, and soon after the two met they became constant companions. They also had a salon together which attracted some of the greatest artists, writers and thinkers of Europe and America, including Picasso, Hemingway, Thorton Wilder and Matisse.

Being another rare example of a proud LGBT couple in a time where discrimination and bigotry was eminent, the two remained deeply devoted to each other for forty years until Stein’s death in 1946. In 1980, a locked cabinet at Yale University revealed hundreds of love letters the two had written to each other over the period of their relationship.

Benjamin Britten & Peter Pears

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Image: HuffingtonPost

Colleagues, mutual muses and lifelong partners Benjamin and Peter were two musicians who met in 1934. Both being extremely talented, Britten was limited by his success due to being openly gay and a pacifist (however is now considered one of the greatest composers of the 20th Century).

Following Britten’s heart surgery in 1974, the composer wrote to his lover; “My darling heart (perhaps an unfortunate phrase, but I can’t use any other).. I do love you so terribly, not only glorious you, but your singing… what have I done to deserve such an artist and man to write for?… I love you, I love you, I love you.” Written in a desperate state of health, this beautiful love letter was written with Benjamin’s determination to live long enough to see Peter one more time.

The two are now buried side by side at St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church in Suffolk. The Red house in Aldeburgh, where the couple lived and worked for twenty years, is now home to the Britten-Pears Foundation, established to promote their musical legacy, which was made a national landmark this year.

As you can see, same-sex relationships have been a fundamental human right since the dawn of time, and has been apart of society throughout history. With support for LGBT equality increasing across the world-wide political spectrum, Australia needs to jump on the bandwagon.

You can help make same-sex marriage a reality for all Australians by signing the petition here!

EJ.

Myth 4: Marriage is about procreation & LGBT couples can’t have kids, so they shouldn’t marry

The early Christians had discussed whether marriage between a man and a woman should be endorsed, and despite many being against such matrimony, it was finally recognized under the church as a sacrament for the sole purpose of procreation.

So the question is, should we disallow straight couples from marriage if they are infertile or don’t want children? And does adoption count? Because about 30% of female same-sex couples and about 15% of male same-sex couples are currently raising children.

Many opposite-sex couples decide to tie the knot to provide their children with the legal security, stability and social recognition that comes with having married parents. Similarly to any other couple, gay individuals can be exceptional parents, with adoption and fostering agencies even stating that gay couple’s understanding of bigotry and prejudice gives them additional strength when helping vulnerable children who have been through tough periods in their life.

Also, the 2011 census showed 6,300 children living in same-sex couple families. Although this only makes up for 1000 of all children in couple families, it is definitely increasing, and with the legalisation of same-sex marriage, such legal and social benefits will flow to the children of gay and lesbian couples as well as to the couples themselves.

Over 30 years of research reveal that children who are raised by gay and lesbian parents have demonstrated “resilience with regard to social, psychological and sexual health despite economic and legal disparities,” as well as social stigma. Many studies have proven that a children’s well-being is affected primarily by the positive relationship they have with their parents, their parent’s sense of competency and security, and the presence of social and economic support for the family rather than the parent’s gender or sexual orientation.

So stating that gay and lesbians are unable to have kids and therefore shouldn’t be recognised under this institution is, without a doubt, unjust.

And due to the fact that all children benefit from being part of a stable, loving family, this right and opportunity should also be extended to all adopted children, right?

EJ

Saying “Same-sex couples already have equal rights” is a lie…

“To be treated like I meant nothing to him, and was not even a part of his life, left me feeling like a part of my soul has been crushed into dust.”

Actually, last time we checked the rights and responsibilities offered to civil partnerships were significantly different to those of a married couple.

“When any society says that I cannot marry a certain person, that society has cut off a segment of my freedom.”

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are 33,700 same-sex couples living in Australia. That means every 1 in 29 people that you know or meet identify their sexual orientation as something other than heterosexual. Currently, those 1 in 29 individuals who are in a loving same-sex relationships have to live together for a certain period of time before they are considered a de facto couple and given any legal rights.

Sure in 2008, Australian legislation underwent a number of reforms to implement equal entitlements for same-sex couples in the areas of employment, superannuation, compensation, and social security, but when it comes to marital entitlements such as hospital visitation rights, estate inheritance and not to mention marriage itself, there are still many inequalities.

Still convinced that a civil partnership is good enough?

Late last year, Ben Jago struggled with the recognition of his same-sex relationship after his partner of five years, Nathan, committed suicide in their Hobart home. Despite joint bank accounts, joint tax returns, a shared property and even plans to marry in New Zealand this year, Ben was refused as next of kin and was considered simply Nathan’s ‘room mate’ by police.

“I lost my soulmate and was then left feeling worthless…”

Ben went through something no one else should ever have to endure, not only did he go through the traumatic event of losing his partner, but their relationship was ignored and deemed non-existent by state authorities.

Mr Jago was refused custody of Nathan’s body, had no say in funeral arrangements and was told by Nathan’s family members that he would only be allowed to attend the funeral if he was to sit at the back and say nothing.

“To be treated like I meant nothing to him, and was not even a part of his life, left me feeling like a part of my soul has been crushed into dust.”

Remember, separate but equal is never completely equal. Overcoming the issue of same sex marriage means equality to ALL citizens.

See Ben’s full interview here.

EJ

MYTH 3: Same-sex marriage opens the doors to other marriages, like a woman marrying their cat.

Many opposers to same-sex marriage argue that legalising this form of marriage will open the doors to polygamy, beastiality and incest.

One common argument from those that oppose same-sex marriage is that, if Australia were to legalise gay marriage, the nation will be one step closer to accepting polygamy, incest, objectophilia and beastiality.

However, have polygamists and other types of unconventional relationship advocates ever used same-sex marriage to justify their own marriage perspectives? The answer is no.

That’s because when discussing gay marriage, it’s clear that we are speaking about a legal agreement between two consenting adults, and not the idea of marriages or relationships between an adult and multiple other adults, an adult and a child, an adult and an animal, or even an adult and an inanimate object.

The fact is that the Australian Marriage Act currently states that matrimony is defined as the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life. Removing such a statement to include the marriage of same-sex couples will not open the doors to those wanting to marry something other than another human being. Also with the ability to divorce and, not to mention, the increasing rate of marriage dissolutions, if the section regarding “entered into for life” is no longer relevant and has been altered to keep up to date with contemporary society, then how come the section “the exclusion of all others” has not?

We are all arguing for one issue: to overcome and accept same-sex marriage, which will have no effect and will create no precedents for polygamous, incestuous or any other such relationships, just like it will have no affect on heterosexual marriages.

Plus, most animals don’t have opposable thumbs, which means they can’t sign marriage contracts, and even if they do… well, they can’t consent to it anyway.

EJ

Myth 2: Gay sex is unnatural

Bottleneck dolphins are well known for forming homosexual pairing bonds which often last for life…

People who use this mythologically based argument obviously shows a considerable ignorance of the animal kingdom. In reality, many animals engage in homosexual behaviour. In fact, among the 1500 species whose behaviours have been studied extensively by socio-biologists and researchers over the years, all species have shown signs of homosexual activity.

And it isn’t one offs – or as we call ‘one night stands’ – either.

This same-sex behaviour ranges from occasional displays of love and affection to life long pairing bonds where sex, adoption, raising orphans and even rejections of potential heterosexual partners have been documented. For example, bottleneck dolphins are well known for forming homosexual pairing bonds which often last for life.

It is common, and thus has evolutionary significance not only to human beings but also to the whole animal kingdom.

So why are we prohibiting something so natural?

EJ

Myth 1: Marriage is an ancient institution that shouldn’t be changed

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If anything, there’s one thing this ancient institution (and society as a whole) is not, and that’s static. A lot of things were considered ‘tradition’ and were ‘always the way they are’ until they were changed and improved. Lets take a retrospective look on some examples:

– Dowries being paid for arranged marriages
– Unions between cousins for political relations (commonly practiced by European royalty)
– Slavery
– Dictatorships by kings and emperors
– Human sacrifice rituals
– Witch hunts
– Curing physical illnesses with spells and magic

Should we go back to doing all of this? No.

Sometimes change is good.

Due to the realization of the evils, fallacies or to simply keep up with the dynamism of contemporary society, these ‘traditions’ must be broken to make way for new, fairer and all inclusive conventions.

Plus, no one is proposing changes to heterosexual marriages in any way, shape or form. So what’s the problem?